new-york

Charles Burchfield

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The work of Charles Burchfield, a representational watercolorist all his life, concerns two related but markedly distinct subjects. In one, Burchfield more or less reports on the man-made landscape—from a small piece of battleships at sea done in 1915, when he was just out of art school, to a variety of scenes of industrial towns made throughout the middle of his career, that is, from the mid ’20s to the mid ’40s. In the other, Burchfield extrapolates from nature toward a mystical, symphonic fantasia which has no real counterpart in American art. As early as The Insect Chorus, 1917, he was exploring the near-hallucinatory responses elicited in him by the seemingly mundane locales of eastern Ohio and western New York State. These landscapes offered Burchfield all the stimulus his half-century-long artistic career required; he was sustained by a contact with the earth such as few other

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